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Much like his character in Chef, Jon Favreau has gone from big budget to small scale, and the results have been sweet victory so far. Only six theaters ran the film this weekend, and it became the fourth independent picture this year to open with a total higher than $30,000 in such a limited capacity. Its success was the first in a couple indie success stories that played out this weekend.
The Wrap reports Favreau's latest film brought in $204,201 this weekend; slightly higher than The Grand Budapest Hotel's opening of $202,792, albeit the latter film had two less theaters to work with. The independent comedy tells the story of a five star chef who, after a critical panning and a reactionary outburst via Twitter, tries to reinvent himself as a food truck entrepreneur. Life seems to be imitating art, except of course Mr. Favreau handled his critics much more politely than his fictional alter ego did. The success, thankfully, has translated so far so good.
Chef wasn't the only independent film that audiences seemed hungry for, as Gia Coppola's Palo Alto brought in $80,640 with four theaters and Belle saw its second weekend expansion succeed to the tune of $473,000 in 45 cinemas. If this many independent films had succeeded on any other weekend, it might not have even popped up on our radar. But with Neighbors beating The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for First Place this weekend, a big question needs to be asked: is it time for Hollywood to bring it down a couple notches? After all, Neighbors had a budget of $18 million and managed to bring in $51 million in its first weekend. It's not last weekend's $91.6 million opening that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 brought in, but it was enough to counter Spidey's unusually low numbers in the second weekend.
The real test of Jon Favreau's Chef will be it's overall expansion in the next couple of weekends. According to his official Twitter feed, this is what we're to expect in terms of his film's roll out strategy:
Not too fast, but not too slow either. In fact, it almost sounds like Favreau is calling the shot before it's even been hit; and so far, it's working. As buzz begins to spread, and anticipation builds, it would not be a surprise to see this film climb up the charts to place in the top 10 next weekend, only to break into the top 5 the weekend after that. Of course, an even better tactic of convincing you that this is a film worthy of watching is to show you the trailer.
Chef expands its theatrical run over the next two weekends, so you'll have something to see if all of the showings for Godzilla or X-Men: Days of Future Past sell out.